Red Sox manager Alex Cora announced today that second baseman Dustin Pedroia will not return during the 2018 season, as Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston was among those to report (Twitter links). In fact, Pedroia has been recovering from a previously undisclosed knee surgery since July.
Of course, even without knowing of the surgery, it has long seemed unlikely that Pedroia would make it back to the field this year. The 35-year-old attempted to return from offseason knee surgery but played only three games before again hitting the shelf. While it wasn’t clear at the time that he’d be sidelined this long, there never was much indication of progress over the months that followed.
For the Boston organization, the absence of Pedroia was already accounted for earlier this summer. The club swung a deal for veteran second bagger Ian Kinsler, who is perhaps as neat a match for Pedroia’s skillset and veteran status as could be imagined.
Of course, Kinsler is slated to hit the open market at season’s end, while Pedroia remains under contract through 2021. Under the extension signed over the summer of 2013, Pedroia will earn $40MM total over the ensuing three-year span — a theoretically reasonable sum for a player of his quality, even at this advanced stage of his career, but also now a hefty amount to have committed given his increasingly worrisome slate of injuries.
For now, the Red Sox will surely welcome Pedroia as a non-playing part of the dugout mix as they seek to convert an incredible regular season into postseason glory. But the offseason will present some tough questions. Brock Holt and (likely) Eduardo Nunez will remain on hand as potential options, though clearly the team’s preference would be for those players to function as reserves.
Pedroia says his most recent procedure was to remove scar tissue, so perhaps it’s not a major concern in and of itself. The hope will have to be that a lengthy respite will allow him to finally get the troublesome knee in shape after requiring significant surgeries in each of the past two months of October. And Pedroia himself says he expects to be ready to go for the 2019 season. Surely, though, further infield moves will at least be contemplated.